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Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future [Kindle Edition]

Jonah Sachs
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Trying to get your message heard? Build an iconic brand?
Welcome to the battlefield.

The story wars are all around us. They are the struggle to be heard in a world of media noise and clamor. Today, most brand messages and mass appeals for causes are drowned out before they even reach us. But a few consistently break through the din, using the only tool that has ever moved minds and changed behavior—great stories.

With insights from mythology, advertising history, evolutionary biology, and psychology, viral storyteller and advertising expert Jonah Sachs takes readers into a fascinating world of seemingly insurmountable challenges and enormous opportunity. You’ll discover how:

• Social media tools are driving a return to the oral tradition, in which stories that matter rise above the fray
• Marketers have become today’s mythmakers, providing society with explanation, meaning, and ritual
• Memorable stories based on timeless themes build legions of eager evangelists
• Marketers and audiences can work together to create deeper meaning and stronger partnerships in building a better world
• Brands like Old Spice, The Story of Stuff, Nike, the Tea Party, and Occupy Wall Street created and sustained massive viral buzz

Winning the Story Wars is a call to arms for business communicators to cast aside broken traditions and join a revolution to build the iconic brands of the future. It puts marketers in the role of heroes with a chance to transform not just their craft but the enterprises they represent. After all, success in the story wars doesn’t come just from telling great stories, but from learning to live them.

Editorial Reviews


Story Wars is a thorough guide for the novice or even practiced storytellers in all of us. Sachs offers story structures, ways of thinking about characters and messages. He pulls artfully from recent brand successes from companies including Nike and Apple. And he tells a few good stories along the way.” — Forbes

“Sachs is full of ideas and strategies to help readers give their brands the rare, compelling story that will raise their message above the melee of advertising noise… the ideas are powerful and solid, and will make inspiring reading for marketing professionals looking to set their stories apart.” — Publishers Weekly

“In this timely, practical, perceptive, and thought-provoking book, Sachs (CEO, Free Range Studios) does a remarkable job trumpeting storytelling as a means by which people can effectively influence others.” — CHOICE

“The book is an interesting blend of marketing and advertising history, mythology, and psychology that pulled me in and kept me turning the pages… the eye-catching illustrations of Drew Beam. Beam's artwork combined with Sachs's writing style kept me glued to the pages… this one has earned a place on my bookshelf and a noteworthy position on my leadership development reading list.” — T+D magazine, American Society for Training & Development

“This fast-paced entertaining book takes on storytelling from the POV of a 24/7 information culture and shares the strategies and tactics that fuel today’s most compelling content.” — Ketchum PR, On the Bookshelf: New Year Reads

“Sachs offers a step-by-step guide to corporate storytelling, showing how brands can use recognisable characters, such as "freaks, cheats and familiars" to create instantly relatable campaigns…Marketers who are able to define the core values of a brand then use them to engage the target audience in a compelling, relatable story are the ones who will thrive in the new media landscape of the "digitoral" age.” — Warc

“His investigation also unveiled a process to help others create winning stories that he shares with great depth and charm in this book.” — 800 CEO READ

“To influence this brave new world, first convince the global media marketplace of your story. The better the story, the better chance of making people think differently.” — Quantas magazine

“In the often superficial, deceptive world of marketing and advertising, social innovator Jonah Sachs is an individual with a conscience...Sachs’s engaging work is a call to arms for anyone who works to influence consumer choices.” — getAbstract

ADVANCE PRAISE for Winning the Story Wars:

Dan Heath, coauthor, Switch and Made to Stick
“Jonah Sachs knows stories. He’s responsible for some of the most popular and respected viral messages of all time: The Story of Stuff, The Meatrix, Grocery Store Wars, and others. This book is a storytelling call to arms, an appeal to tell the stories that matter. So read Winning the Story Wars—and join the fray.”

Nick Coe, CEO, Bath & Body Works; former President, Land’s End—
“History is written by the winners. And as Jonah Sachs makes abundantly clear, it is now being written by the marketers, the new mythmakers of our time. Whatever your product or your cause, if you want it to succeed, read this wise and enlightening book.”

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International—
Winning the Story Wars will convince you that storytelling is the most powerful way to move people to action. And it will teach you to use that power to orient our world to a more positive future. If you’re ready to be a great storyteller, read this book.”

Deepak Chopra, founder, The Chopra Foundation—
“Great leaders transform the world through stories that inspire hope, stability, trust, compassion, and authenticity. This important and thought-provoking book shows that leadership in marketing will require the living and telling of such stories as well.”

Bill Bradley, former US Senator; Managing Director, Allen & Company—
“We know about who we are both individually and as a society through stories. In this brilliant book, Jonah Sachs tells us how we lost our storytelling capacity and how we must regain it, constructing our own myths and living the truth of the stories we tell.”

Paul Hawken, author, The Ecology of Commerce and Blessed Unrest
“In the current maelstrom of media babble and corporate deceit, Jonah Sachs makes sense where none appears to exist. Winning the Story Wars explains why we respond to lies—whether in political or product ads, campaigns or speeches—and how truth ultimately trumps all. This remarkable book delivers on that rare promise of changing how you see the world.”

About the Author

As the cofounder and CEO of Free Range Studios, Jonah Sachs has helped hundreds of major brands and causes break through the media noise with unforgettable campaigns. A constant innovator, his studio’s websites and stories have taken top honors three times at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. Sachs’s work and opinions have been featured in a variety of media, including the New York Times, NPR, and Fast Company magazine, which named him one of its fifty most influential social innovators.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1248 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B008JFQACU
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (June 19, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0088Q9UX6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,777 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but .... December 28, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've now read two important books on the subject of story-based branding: StoryWars by Jonah Sachs and StoryBranding by Jim Signorelli. Both take different paths but have the same moral: successful brands should draw from the way stories can empower audiences.

Whereas Sach's book is replete with beautiful air-brushed drawings and is well laid out, Signorelli's book uses whimsical cartoons that can be distracting. Furthermore, the cartoons themselves give one the sense that this book is too simple. Simple yes, but powerful nevertheless. In fact, putting looks aside, I favor StoryBranding for its approach.

Sach's approach is testimony to how verbosity can get in the way of interest and meaning. At times, while reading about the supposed learnings one can glean from religious or well-known tales, I found myself thinking hard to understand the point. At times, I had to let go hoping that things would get clarified with more reading. Signorelli's staright-forward, and sometimes humorous, self-deprecating style is in stark contrast with Sach's. Wheras Sach's writes more from the clouds down. Signorell writes from the ground up. Additionally, at times, I felt that Sach's was also interjecting his liberal political philosophies. Whereas he tries to hide how he feels about Glen Beck in his first chapter, its an obvious all-too-obvious "get back" for some not-so-flattering comments Beck made about one of his videos.

Another interesting contrast is seen in the different ways each author portrays the hero of a brand's story. Sach's subscribes to the notion that the hero is always the consumer. He sees the role of the brand as more of a mentor or advisor who is interested in showing the consumer how to overcome certain conflicts on route to his or her goal.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read for non-marketers as well November 4, 2012
I am not a professional marketer but picked up Story Wars anyway and enjoyed it. Sachs looks at various ad campaigns and suggests that campaigns which can tap into our human preference for a narrative are the ones that will succeed in influencing our actions. And in today's hyper-saturated media markets it is those campaigns alone which will be effective while others will be drowned out.

As a non-marketer myself it was interesting to recall the various ad campaigns in the book and think about which ones had, in fact, reached me and others which had not. But Sachs takes it a step further encouraging marketers to employ his story telling technique (or really, to fight the Story Wars) not just so that they might reach more consumers but also so that the entire discourse of marketing might reach a higher plane. This was a marketing book with a greater message about personal authenticity and truth to self that I found very rewarding to read. Highly recommended.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Queen Elizabeth is on Twitter? July 9, 2012
By I.A.
Format:Kindle Edition
If you are reading Story Wars then you understand the power of the narrative. You likely are familiar with buzz terms like: outliers, best practices, brand management, and innovation. You get articles on these subjects sent to you; you seek out books written on maximizing your personal and professional experience. The irony is that much of the writing on the aforementioned topics can be redundant and, well, you know, wordy, which is not what this review should be.

Story Wars gives the reader all the tools to market his or her ideas through applicable and relevant stories. It is a marketing book written for tells the story of how ideas become movements set in a world where The British Royal Family is on twitter and the President of the United States carries a blackberry. Story Wars assumes clutter is everywhere and therefore compels its reader to crack the glass and then tells you how with funny examples from the author's Sixteen Candles/Star Wars/Ferris Buller childhood.

Go ahead...Read Good to Great...The Tipping Point...Kellogg on Branding..All great books, I concur...but this one is fun and you walk away with a real understanding of how to market yourself while the Queen is retweeting and the President is BBMing you.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are the Hero! August 1, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jonah has given us a great book. First, it's fun. Second, it's deeply insightful. Third, it's practical. Jonah incorporates scholarship, scripture and a host of examples from familiar marketing campaigns to show us how to craft a powerful story that resonates with symbols buried in our myth-laden minds.

Jonah shows how modern day marketers now play the role of the ancient myth-maker, whose stories have framed our reality throughout the ages. He explains how this myth-structure in our mind is encoded genetically. He then reveals the landscape of archetypes at the base of our perception.

For marketers, this book will deepen your understanding of the elements of success in your trade. For the layman, it will help you to understand why we feel inspired by certain ideas and not others. Equipped with this book, anyone can assert greater control over his or her own real life story.

To Jonah, success in marketing is certainly an issue of dollars and cents, but it's also much more than that. The marketer is engaged in the struggle for the very soul of our civilization - a soul yearning for new stories that empower us to face serious global challenges with the strength and courage of the epic hero. Jonah reveals that we are hero!

I would encourage everyone to try this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for marketers, communicators, and those who care about our...
This is an important book for marketers and non-marketers alike, including anyone who cares about the future of our society. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tom Bowman
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to apply to real businesses, this book is for cause marketers.
I agree with the power of well told stories and there are some good examples. However, can't rate the book higher because I was a bit disappointed with some of the sample subjects... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jon Burgess
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
Excellent thought provoking book. Any one in marketing, sales, or even church would benefit from the wisdom of this book.
Published 3 months ago by David Brett
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes the concept of the hero's story to a very specific setting
This is very well written. At times it may lose the reader if they are not interested in advertising or marketing, but as a recipient of these efforts it is well worth it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by James Cannon
4.0 out of 5 stars I like Mr. Sachs model for promoting ideas, brands, and social...
The book was a very good read. Mr. Sachs looks at marketing/advertising in the past and present. He discusses how the age of social media is transforming the ways in which people... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Longhunter
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book. Could Be Better
This book had much promise, and did partially deliver on the promise. There were some very good points about the art of story telling, and myth, and I think that Jonah started... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Rajiv Chopra
5.0 out of 5 stars the story wars is upon us
The book was a thrilling read. I will recommend it to a few of my friends and co-workers that may benefit.
Published 6 months ago by Joshua Valentine
1.0 out of 5 stars Stick to your topic
Sachs talks about "authority" yet then mindlessly starts pushing his softly pseudo green mindset into his writing. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Michael B. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars This idea was tested in real life and improved conversions.
This book is great. The first half of this book is about the concept of storytelling using his unique formula, building a memorable brand and how you can avoid sabotaging your... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Rob Fulton
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Story Telling
I have read a lot of books on the topic and it’s the only one that present a fresh and revolutionizing way of designing stories that disrupt the way you can do business and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Fernando Loaiza
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More About the Author

Jonah is an internationally recognized storyteller, author, designer and entrepreneur. As the co-founder and creative director of Free Range Studios, Jonah has helped hundreds of social brands and causes break through the media din with breakthrough campaigns. His work on legendary viral videos like The Meatrix and The Story of Stuff series have brought key social issues to the attention of more than 60 million people. Sample his work now: Check out the compelling book trailer for "Winning the Story Wars" on Jonah's author page.

Jonah's passion lies in exploring the intersection of ancient storytelling techniques, social responsibility and emerging technologies. In his upcoming book, Story Wars to be published in 2012 by Harvard Business Review Press, he argues that brands that tell values-driven stories through the right channels will not only revolutionize marketing, they may become humanity's greatest hope for the future. Jonah's work and opinions have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, FOX News, Sundance Film Festival, NPR and in FastCompany Magazine who named him one of the 50 most influential social innovators. He lives in Oakland California.

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